Angry Growers to Attend Sugar Terminals Limited AGM

Angry cane growers from around the state will travel to Brisbane this week to confront the owner of the Queensland’s sugar terminals over its plans to become an unregulated monopoly asset owner/operator.

Queensland’s farmers have long trusted the operations of the bulk sugar terminals to the industry-owned not-for-profit Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL). However, earlier this year STL announced, without consultation or support from industry and its grower shareholders, that it would attempt to terminate these arrangements, and seek to take to take a stranglehold over these vital pieces of infrastructure.

Bulk Sugar Terminal Working Group Chairman Don Murday said growers around the state had united against the plan, which they say leaves them at the mercy of an asset owner focused on maximizing shareholder profits rather than supporting the Queensland sugar industry.

“Since the terminals’ inception, QSL and its predecessor have managed the terminals on behalf of industry on a cost-recovery basis only, meaning they don’t extract a profit or margin from this service, helping to minimise operating costs for the cane growers and sugar millers using them,” he said.

“In contrast, STL is a listed company primarily focused on profits for its shareholders, rather than the best interests of our state’s sugar industry, but we have nowhere else to go for these services.

“Queensland’s multi-billion-dollar Queensland raw sugar export industry is completely reliant on these monopoly assets, and so we’re fish in a barrel. The only safeguard we have is oversight provided by our industry not-for-profit operating these facilities to minimise costs and ensuring that there is agreement with STL on budgets, expenditure and operating plans.”

Mr Murday dismissed STL claims that the insourcing move would reduce costs. “Let’s not pretend that insourcing is some kind of cost-saving initiative. STL has already increased their storage and handling costs by 41% since 2018 while QSL has operated the terminals under a flat budget during that time and the amount of sugar passing through the terminals has fallen. It’s not hard to see what’s going to happen when STL takes over operations as well.”

“There was no industry consultation prior to this insourcing announcement and STL has refused requests to meet with us or to hold their AGM in a region where their grower shareholders could easily attend, so we’ve had to travel to Brisbane to share our concerns.

“It’s appalling corporate behaviour on every level, but if they think that they can patronise us and tell us it is for the best without engaging with their grower shareholders and presenting a compelling business case, they are mistaken.”

The STL AGM will be held at level 28 of the Riparian Plaza, Brisbane, at 2pm Wednesday 22 November 2023.

– ENDS –


Media Contacts

ACFA: Don Murday 0418 774 499

Kalagro: Robert Malaponte 0419 640 523

QCAR: Christian Lago 0414 421 723

Bundaberg Sugar: Guy Basile 0418 887 399

Agforce Cane Ltd: Russell Hall 0427 827212



New QRIDA Regional Area Manager keen to help sugarcane farmers succeed

Townsville, Burdekin and Charters Towers region cane growers, meet your new Regional Area Manager for North Queensland, Glenn Henricksen.

Glenn comes to QRIDA with more than 20 years’ experience in banking, finance and agribusiness, and is committed to helping primary producers succeed with the right financial assistance.

“There are a range of QRIDA grants and loans that could help cane growers get the most value out of their harvest,” he said.

“Whether you’re looking to improve irrigation and efficiency by installing additional water points, invest in biosecurity measures to stop the spread of unwanted pests and diseases, or purchase new equipment to improve productivity, a QRIDA Sustainability Loan could take your primary production business to the next level.

“If you are in the initial years of establishing your primary production enterprise, a QRIDA First Start Loan could help you put succession plans in place or purchase property.” 

QRIDA also has grants of up to $50,000 and loans of up to $250,000 that could help sugarcane farmers prepare, manage, recover and mitigate the impacts of drought.

Glenn is filling the role while Elizabeth Bajcetic is on maternity leave.

Call Glenn on 0408 180 644 and arrange a time to meet on-farm to find out how QRIDA’s financial assistance could help your primary production business.

A letter from your united industry representatives

After decades of QSL operating Queensland’s bulk sugar terminals on behalf of our industry,
terminal owner Sugar Terminals Limited (STL) has announced that it will stop current arrangements with QSL and run the terminals itself.

This announcement should ring very loud alarm bells for every cane grower in our state

The separation of asset owner (STL) and asset operator (QSL) was an intentional move by the
Queensland government when the terminals were privatised 20 years ago and protects our industry from a monopoly owner-operator controlling our only pathway to export markets.

STL’s decision to remove QSL from the terminals was made with no industry consultation and places these crucial industry assets – paid for by Qld growers and millers – solely in the hands of a company focused on shareholder profits rather than the best interests of Queensland sugar producers.

Despite widespread industry outrage following their announcement, STL has refused to meet with this group to detail the business case behind their decision, and address our very significant concerns about the future of our industry’s terminal assets.

Our concerns include:

Unregulated monopoly owner-operator of our industry’s assets

Current terminal operator QSL is an industry-owned organisation that has successfully operated the bulk sugar terminals for decades. It provides its services for no margin and on a cost-recovery basis only, leveraging its not-for-profit status and tax concessions to minimise costs for Queensland sugar producers. In contrast, STL is a public company that is driven primarily by maximising profits for its
shareholders, rather than serving the best interests of our industry. The Queensland sugar industry is their revenue base and removing QSL’s oversight of terminal operations will see STL become a monopoly owner-operator with unregulated control of our export infrastructure.

The cost of change

Despite claims that it will reduce operating costs by taking over terminal operations from QSL, STL has already admitted that the savings they have touted by removing ‘duplication’ will effectively be cancelled out by the loss of the savings associated with QSL’s not-for-profit status. STL has released no costings on how it – a company with more board members than employees and no experience in running a sugar terminal – will run the terminals for less. STL already has a poor track record on costs, and since taking over the Storage and Handling Agreement in FY2018 has increased charges to
industry while QSL has reduced operating costs during the same period.

Who really runs the show?

While STL was initially set up by the sugar industry to give all of industry a say in its activities through both grower and miller-owned shares, now sugar millers Wilmar and MSF dominate the shareholdings, and between them were able to select all four industry directors plus the independent directors and executive board.

Diversification distraction

STL has tried to link removing QSL with an increase in revenue diversification. However, QSL already has a track record of progressing a range of non-sugar projects to increase terminal revenue, such as the wood pellet loading in Bundaberg and fertiliser storage in Mackay. However, QSL has a clear mandate to prioritise what’s best for the Queensland sugar industry, whereas STL has no such constraints when seeking to increase its revenue base.

What you can do

This united industry group will fight hard to do all we can to overturn STL’s decision. However,
growers must also speak up to share their concerns. You can let the STL Board know what you think by contacting them via email at or by post to GPO Box 1675, Brisbane QLD 4001.

If you are an STL G-Class shareholder, you may want to consider joining the others who have
recently given their proxy to QSL. This proxy arrangement temporarily transfers your voting rights to QSL, expanding their voice in STL elections and supporting their to fight to reverse STL’s ridiculous decision.

Your voice counts – please make it heard on this important issue.

Industry unites to denounce terminal decision



Industry unites to denounce terminal decision

Key sugar industry bodies have united to condemn Sugar Terminals Limited’s (STL) recent decision to terminate its long-standing Operating Agreement with Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL) and to call on the organisation to withdraw the Notice of Termination immediately.

After meeting in Townsville last week, Australian Cane Farmers Association (ACFA), CANEGROWERS, AgForce, Burdekin Cane and Agricultural Organisation, Kalamia Cane Growers Organisation (KCGO), Far Northern Milling and Bundaberg Sugar wrote to the STL Board to strongly denounce their decision and called the Board out for failing to consult with industry participants in the lead up to the termination.

Chair of CANEGROWERS Owen Menkens pointed out that STL had no experience in operating the terminals and the removal of QSL is a real risk to the Queensland sugar industry.

“QSL’s operation of Queensland’s bulk sugar terminals has always been cost-effective, reliable and safe which has allowed our industry to maintain a competitive advantage on the global market. STL have not yet shown industry how they can deliver on their claims of reducing operating costs and improving efficiency.”

ACFA Chair Don Murday said that STL are not acting in the best interests of the sugar industry and is frustrated in the way STL has conducted themselves.

“It is deplorable that STL would make such a significant decision, one which will have vast and long-term impacts on our industry, without taking the time to talk with growers first. It’s appalling behaviour.”

President of AgForce Cane Board, Russell Hall also expressed his disappointment that STL did not consult with grower groups prior to its announcement.

“Growers are STL’s majority shareholders, ultimately paying two thirds of STL’s costs, so why didn’t they reach out to us? It’s a slap in the face for growers and demonstrates real arrogance on STL’s behalf.”

Charles Quagliata, Chair of BCAO, expressed concerns over STL’s motivations for the decision.

“STL’s announcement means that the billion-dollar Queensland sugar industry will be at the mercy of a monopoly owner/operator, one that is focused on maximising shareholder returns rather than serving the industry.”

KCGO Chair Robert Malaponte said that QSL should continue to operate the terminals as they have done so for decades.

“QSL is industry owned and is the long-term and proven operator of the bulk sugar terminals. They have always provided a world-class service as terminal operator, experience that is unmatched.”

Far Northern Milling Chair Maryann Salvetti and CEO of Bundaberg Sugar Guy Basile were also firm in their view of who is best placed to operate the terminals.

“We stand strongly by our commitment to QSL and urge STL to put the best interests of the entire industry at the forefront and reinstate the Operating Agreement with QSL at once,” Ms Salvetti said.

“STL need to act as a matter of urgency before any damage is done to the sugar industry and its reputation,” Mr Basile concluded.

Under the terms of the existing Operating Agreement, QSL will continue to be the operator of the state’s bulk sugar terminals (BSTs) until 30 June 2026.


Media contact:

Owen Menkens | CANEGROWERS Chairman | 0409 480 179
Don Murday | ACFA Chairman | 0418 774 499
Panikos Spirou | Cane Services Manager AgForce | 0427 577 116
Christian Lago | Director BCAO | 0414 421 723
Allan Parker | Manager KCGO | 0438 827 550
Bronwyn Dwyer | CEO Far Northern Milling | 0428 891 462
Guy Basile | CEO Bundaberg Sugar | 0418 887 399